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Writing to Create Community

Dedeepya stands outdoors and smiles at the camera. “For a lot of programs like music or sports, it's easy to find a community or people that share your interest. Writing isn't like that—it can be viewed as something solitary for a lot of kids.”

Edina High School (EHS) junior Dedeepya Guthikonda is passionate about building a community of young writers in Edina. She credits an elementary teacher with first sparking her interest in fiction, and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for encouraging her through middle school. But participating in collaborative workshops and programs like Iowa Young Writers Studio, the Adroit Summer Mentorship Program, ThreeSixty Journalism at University of St. Thomas, and Edina Zephyrus helped her see the value of connection and belonging. For me, it wasn't until I had the chance to be a part of programs like these that the idea of a writing community really opened up for me, which was something I had never had before.”

Dedeepya wanted to share what she had learned with other kids in our community. An opportunity presented itself when she was volunteering with younger students at Yorkdale CommonBond. “One time during a group activity, I helped a few kids write some stories of their own. At first, they were very reluctant to share their work with others. But eventually, they were very excited and wanted to show their writing not only to each other, but to everyone at school!”

Inspired by this experience, Dedeepya played around with other ways she could connect young writers in our community. “I was thinking about a typical Math Bowl or Science Bowl, where you're given a short time to complete a challenge with prizes at the end.” She came up with the idea of a "Writing Bowl," with several rounds inspired by different prompts and different forms of writing. Unsure of how to go about organizing her idea, she first connected with teachers at EHS to sharpen her ideas. They encouraged her to connect with Community Ed to help make the program a reality. “Annie and Kayla in Community Ed have been so supportive, and so passionate about this idea. We were even able to make it happen in a virtual setting after it was cancelled in March.” 

The first Edina Online Creative Writing Bowl will take place on Saturday, November 14th from 9:30am-3:00pm for students in grades 3-8 (register here: bit.ly/writingbowl1). Throughout the day, students will experience creative writing in a community setting. A series of writing challenges based on prompts and images will give students experience with a wide variety of writing forms. Participants will create work both individually and collaboratively, says Dedeepya. “The main goal of the event is to introduce the kids to each other and form a sense of community. Beyond that, I hope they all leave with more confidence in their writing. Especially during these difficult times with the pandemic and current events, writing can be a form of solace and comfort. I really want to help people find how valuable writing can be for them.”